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Responding to an Atheist

Updated: Jan 1

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”—Psalm 14:1a

Cross on top of a mountain

My blog post this time is going to be a little different. I’m going to actually share a text I sent to a man we met while we were on vacation in our RV.  We were at a beautiful spot overlooking the ocean and enjoying a picnic lunch.  A man came out on the lawn where we were, social distanced–of course, behind us. He said something about the beautiful weather, and we struck up a conversation. It turned out that he was an attorney who had been involved in some high-profile cases. He was very nice to talk to, so we ended up talking about his work, which lead to some other topics.  Being a Christian, I don’t shy away from sharing the Gospel. I mentioned something about the work I do and that, being a Christian, I believe that God cares a lot about how we think. He then shared his view with us that he is an atheist, and he was actually very passionate about his position.  Apparently, he’s even written about it.  We believe that God loves everyone and has offered His free gift of salvation to all of us who are sinners.  Because he takes a different position from us, we were not appalled and didn’t stomp off.  Actually, it was good to have the kind of dialog we had where we were sharing our different points of view.  We had to get back to our campsite, so we exchanged numbers since we said that we hoped to pick up the discussion again at a local restaurant that we found we all like going to. (We hope to still do this.)

He had texted me later that it was good talking with us and looked forward to dinner.  He also sent a question for me to ponder.  It went something like this: If you assume there is no God and no life after death, why isn’t that a really exciting way to look at our existence on the planet and why isn’t that at least as rewarding as believing in a God, life after death, eternal life, etc.?

Below is my response:

As far as not believing in God, life after death, etc., I do not see this as exciting at all. In fact, I see that as the most hopeless viewpoint for many reasons, but I’ll name a few. First, if there is no God or higher power than yourself, where is meaning, where is power, where is a driving force for good? It’s a fact that every communistic nation, based on atheism, has brought death, devastation and suffering to millions while giving power and luxuries to the few at the highest levels. We have plenty of measurable evidence of the atrocities committed by human beings on their fellow man. While a non-believer can be moral, there are many, many who are not and are not driven by any moral conscience for good. In fact, their lack of belief can preclude them from any restraint from moral depravity. By contrast, those who are guided by their belief in God have a moral compass and desire to do good for the sake of the One they believe in. Our schools, hospitals, and many social justice programs came as a result of Christians and their beliefs as they spread across the world for good. To be honest, I don’t see it as exciting to live in a world where everyone is “free” from their belief and service to God since we see what man is capable of left to his own devices. In fact, Christianity is the only religion that speaks of loving your neighbor and blessing your enemies and truly is peaceful. Of course, there are those who have killed on behalf of the “religion” but they were actually in opposition to the true tenets of the faith.

Also, belief in God and the eternal life He freely gives to those who receive it, helps put into perspective the suffering and adversities we have here. When we ponder how long eternity lasts, it helps us see how short this life really is. While we may have to go through tough things, we know that this life is like a grain of sand on the seashore compared to eternity. If this life is all there is, that is not only not exciting, but actually depressing.

I also want to address the idea that a human being can know for sure, without a doubt, that God doesn’t exist, that there is no life after death, etc. This presupposes that man knows all there is to know about everything, and we have more than enough evidence to show that’s not true. If man is so evolved and advanced, why are we still fighting, killing and destroying each other? Why are there things we cannot definitively answer or problems we can’t solve? I think these things are evidence that there are spiritual realities and understanding that are above us.

Lastly, I want to point out that many people can have fanatical and false ideas and be willing to die for them (at their own hands), but most will not be willingly tortured and killed for a belief that they know to be untrue. The Christian Church was built on the testimonies of the followers of Jesus who were tortured (thrown to the lions, lit on fire for Neuro’s palace, sawed in two, etc.) because they refused to renounce their belief in the living God, whom they encountered first hand, and because they knew they had an eternal life waiting for them with Him.

There are many things in this life that we can’t explain, but we can look upon the evidence of lives that have been radically changed as a result of belief and walking in relationship with the God who created them. Unless you experience this for yourself, you will not be able to see it. I can explain to you all day long how wonderful chocolate cake tastes, but if you’ve never eaten it yourself, you will not be able to fully understand.

I ended it with saying that we could discuss more in person when we have dinner. He was very kind in thanking me for what he said was my “thoughtful, insightful, and incredibly articulate expression of my position.”  I will say that this was a refreshing exchange of opposing ideas in the world we currently live in where people are censored, ridiculed and called all kinds of names if they have a differing viewpoint than the one that is touted as the mainstream—whatever that really is.

I’m sharing this for a few reasons. One, I wanted to publish my defense of the Christian faith because I believe it in wholeheartedly, and that has come as a result of both my own personal relationship with the living Triune God and also the many years of research I have done studying His Word and the Christian faith. I didn’t throw my brains in the trash to be a Christian. Two, I’m sharing this since I believe that Christ called us all to spread the Gospel but to do it with gentleness and respect. God gives us free will, and He doesn’t push Himself on anyone. At the end of the day, each of us is called to make our own choice.

Our current climate, politically and socially, is one of great division. Friends and families are divided and at odds with each other, and it seems like no one is willing to debate differing ideas respectfully.  I really appreciated our new friend’s respect and willingness to dialog with us.  Of course, I hope that he will change his mind and come to the One who made him, loves him, and died for him.  In fact, I pray this for him often now. But, he is given the free will to choose as he pleases. How do you choose? This is the most important decision we will ever make!

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.”–Romans 10:9-11

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.–John 3:16

Now that I am a Christian, I do not have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist, I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable. —C.S. Lewis

A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.—C.S. Lewis

If you want to know more, check out this great website by scholar, author and former atheist, Josh McDowell:

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